At this month’s New Forest Consultative Panel, the Deputy Surveyor, Mike Seddon, gave basic details of the Forest Holidays proposed campsite retail van, for which he will be asking the Verderers approval in the May Verderers Court. Having taken over the running of the shop at Holmsley campsite last season, Forest Holidays, a joint venture between the Forestry Commission and The Camping and Caravanning Club, wish to extend the shop’s offering to three other campsites, Holland’s Wood, Roundhill, and Ashurst.
The Deputy Surveyor’s presentation focussed on Forest Holiday’s aim of carrying New Forest Marque® products on the van, and branding the van itself with the New Forest Marque®. The New Forest Marque® is a branding scheme to promote and identify New Forest produce.
(see http://www.newforestproduce.com/about_the_marque.html for more info).
Forest Holidays will be promising the Verderers “that they are prepared to give preference to local products as far as possible.” They also claim “an ancillary benefit” would be reducing car journeys by campsite visitors.
Panel members slammed the proposal for its disregard for local businesses and the environmental impact on the fabric of the forest. Peter Roberts of the New Forest Association suggested that the proposals were merely “a sideshow”, and that given the statutory duty to insure that the Ancient and Ornamental woodland is kept in good or improving condition, that instead the Forestry Commission should be seeking to “remove the commercial element from the forest” which is doing actual damage to the land. Peter Sopowski, Ashurst and Colbury Parish Council, described the proposal as “a retrograde step” and that the shops dependent on the campsite trade in Ashurst are in easy walking distance of the campsite, and said, “it’s not the thin end of the wedge, it’s the sharp end.” Olive Collins, New Forest Shops Association, said she had “a feeling of deja vu”and gave a potted history of previous attempts to run mobile shops on the campsites, leading to closures of local shops, outrage, the Verderers Court filled to bursting, and the removal of the mobile shops.
[To read a full transcript of the Deputy Surveyor’s statement, see the first comment below, or click here.]
[Full Transcript with Notes of the Deputy Surveyor’s statement concerning Mobile Shops at the New Forest Consultative Panel]
Ten campsites on the New Forest which were formerly run by the Forestry Commission, you recall a few years ago got made part of a what’s called a joint venture company which is called Forest Holidays, I need to just remind the panel that Forest Holidays are a separate organization, I can’t represent Forest Holidays, I’m Forestry Commission. The Commission is a shareholder in that company, but that’s as far as it goes. Forest Holidays are separate, but I won’t talk about this as, obviously, they are operating on our land and [panel cough] we work closely with them, which is how it works in the New Forest.
On those 10 campsites, about 3,300 pitches so that means that there can be at a busy time 12,000 people staying on those sites. Forest Holidays clearly want to provide goods and services to those people, and would like those people to enjoy staying in the Forest, and would for the New Forest to benefit from the people staying in it, and spend money it, as part of the tourist economy.
Since the last season, Forest Holidays has directly operated the long established shop that exists at Holmsly campsite, and that is long established, but what they’ve particularly been trying to do since bringing that shop back in hand is develop local supply arrangements, and have been increasing the supply of Forest Marque local products available in that shop. Forest Holidays would now like to extend the offer of that local produce or particularly of local produce to customers staying at three of the other campsites, that’s Holland’s Wood, Roundhill, and Ashurst. And I’m taking the proposal to the Verderers Court later on this month to propose that they will introduce a retail van that will deliver goods to those campsites I’ve said. The retail van in turn would be stocked from the Holmsly shop, which as I’ve said, as I’ve already explained in turn has got the associations with local producers and suppliers as well as other producers and suppliers.
So, one of the things that Forest Holidays would like help to achieve through the introduction of the retail van, apart from the obviously the delivery of goods to onto those sites, is an opportunity to help promote Forest Marque by branding the van as a Forest Marque product van. It’s committed to offering opportunities and working with tourism… not tourism, the economic officer of the district council and the local produce officer to generate further connections into local supply chain and opportunities to cross markets with those other businesses by carrying things like the Local Producers Guide and Discover New Forest Guide on the van.
In terms of what’s in the van, is the goods itself, Forest Holidays are, as I’ve said, committed to try to increase the range of local products. So they are, will be saying to the Verderers that they are prepared to give preference to local products as far as possible. So, for example, if there is, I don’t know, a local bacon supplier that initially they would try to source something locally, rather than going further afield for bacon on that van. And by local, what I’m talking about is initially Forest Marque, the New Forest Marque registered products, beyond that, if that’s not possible, go to Dorset, Hampshire, and only then, or at peak times if demand exceeds supply they would be looking to get supply from a wider market.
And it’s worth, just I asked this afternoon, just to get an idea as to who they currently have some supply arrangements with in terms of their local producers, and the types of companies, some of which you may, or may not be familiar with, are:
New Forest Fine Foods,
Prices for Meat, [*1]
a mill at… Alderholt, I think,
New Forest Spring Water,
and a couple of local soap type companies,
And in turn lots of those companies have links into other local suppliers. For example, the Cottage Loaf bakery get their flour from Cadland estate. So hopefully, there’s a great synergy [*2] between being able to promote these products and then sell them which then benefits their local producers.
An ancillary benefit, not one that we’d make much of, but an ancillary benefit is actually being able to get folk to come to the sites and then leave their car behind once they’re there [*3] … we’re not pushing that one hugely, just for example [*4] But, hopefully it will reduce the fumes as an secondary benefit.
[*5] I hope that gives you a kind of outline as to what Forest Holidays aim to do, it’s about improving on customer service, it’s, will, clearly has to be commercial otherwise it wouldn’t work, we can’t run the van unless it obviously generates some money to cover its cost, but particularly working with local suppliers and producers to benefit them. Potentially, with the scale of customers on these sites this could be one of the most significant supporters of Forest Marque products in the New Forest, because it’s kind of a very large market. and there are opportunities for other business and retail outlets to benefit from that by cross marketing or in turn supplying Forest [GARBLE] with goods.
As I said this is going to the Verderers in mid-May, and we will be seeking the Verderers support and agreement to the proposal to put the van on these three sites by the summer.
Disclaimer: this transcription is done to the best of my ability, given the dubious sound quality of the recording, and the fact that the Deputy Surveyor was not voice trained at RADA, therefore may contain some inaccuracies. Perhaps the Forestry Commission would get Brian Blessed to give their staff vocal advice. The comments below are mine alone. – BRT
*1 not listed on the New Forest Marque website
*2 I’d been wondering how long it would take for that word to pop up, “synergy” a sure sign of management speak
*3 I had already imagined they might be craven enough to suggest this supposedly environmental angle, what about the local shops within walking distance of the campsites.
*4 why mention it then?
*5 It descends completely into management consultant double speak from here on.]